PICK OF THE WEEK: Narakah grind maddeningly, violently through damaging debut ‘Nemesis Cloak’

What’s worse: A long, grueling fight where you get in your shots but ultimately take on a lot of damage or a short blast where you have no chance at all but at least the savagery isn’t sustained over an extended period of agony? I don’t have an answer. I’m not super into getting my ass kicked so I don’t have a preference, but I’m sure there are some sickos out there who are doing the math in their heads.

Anyway, it might not be the longest record you’ll ever encounter, but Narakah’s debut full-length album “Nemesis Cloak” is the latter, a microburst of grindcore madness that stomps you into the ground, your identity mostly left in question. This Pittsburgh assault unit grew out of other local crushers such as Slaves BC (now Uzkost), Meth Quarry, Acolyte, Demilitia and plenty of others, and they bring their sardonic chaos to these 18 tracks that blast by in a mere 20 minutes. It felt like a fucking cartoon trying to take notes during this thing, requiring more than one session, but who gives a damn when the music is this piledriving and fun? The band—vocalist Adam Joseph Bailey, guitarist/vocalist Christopher Martin Smith, bassist Evan Richard Kunkle, drummer/synth player/sample master Jason Lee Spence—derive their maddening inspiration from areas as wide as anime, manga, TV shows and movies, videogames, and more. Their sample selection is both flavorful fun but also packs one particular head-jerking clip that’ll make long-time Pittsburgh residents almost wreck their cars. I was almost test case 1, thinking my car stereo was possessed.   

“Leftover Hamburger” actually kind of hangs in the air, like you’re going to have a chance to breath before you’re suddenly underneath a goddamn tractor that’s eating you alive. “Crosstream Sumeria” has barks ripping at your flesh as the playing explodes in fits of rage, mauling to a gurgling end and ripping into “Seven Zurls” that lets the noise sting before striking. Throaty growls and mauling drums are on the hunt, rattling brains and leaving you off balance for “The Uzi Crusades (“Uzi Jūjigun”)” that starts with an old Century III Chevrolet jingle that everyone in Pittsburgh knows off by heart. From there, the force opens ribcages, savage growls lurching and boiling in acid, making toward “Silian Rail” that starts with a “Ghostbusters” sample before taking on a sludgier path. The vocals scathe and gurgle in violence as the beating is meted out slowly, then “Headless Nazarene” splatters and stabs toward you, digging in and thrashing, dragging things to a bludgeoning end. “In Hostile Purity” has guitars chewing their way in, punishment and melody forming the strangest tag team ever. The growls erupt from hell and consume, then “F.R.E.E.” comes in, an eerie “Clockwork Orange” sample making your unease increase before mangling guitars and piledriving power chug and take apart worlds. “Gabriel’s Horn” is an ambient interlude, but it leaves no room for comfort, the sounds feeling warm and unsettling.

“Through Incendiary Tropics” unloads and strings guts all over the place, feeling animalistic and unhinged, leading into “Yarler on the Prowl” that feels washed out and disassociated with reality, strange music making your mind trip out. The title track is a fucking lariat to the throat, the vocals peeling flesh, and the playing giving off a punishing hardcore vibe that doesn’t forgive. “The Colour of Illusion” spirals in amid throaty growls and guitars tangling you in their webs. Crazed shrieks caw as the levels increase threateningly, then “The Rogue’s Wallet” pushes in and explodes as the drumming tries to murder you, the vocals are spat out like poison, and a brief airy feel gives off a dreamy vibe before disintegrating. “Hausu” almost immediately spills over, the pace is relentless, and the fires grow out of control, moving toward “Oaky Afterbirth” that mixes weird sounds and gruff shouts, feeling brutal and menacing, blackening eyes along the way. “Creepshow Tabernacle” strikes off kilter and purposely so, lest you think you’ll be given a chance to exhale. Muddy power and chugging guitars combine, landing a blow before closer “Thriving on Mysterious” ruptures absolutely. Growls gurgle in acid, the playing tears apart muscle, and final devastating gasps helps the body melt into nothingness.

Narakah’s grind attack is mightier and blooder than ever on “Nemesis Cloak,” their ridiculously disruptive debut full-length assault. There’s zero room to breathe or even dream of escaping as fists and kicks are flying the entire time, multiplying and turning everything to a pile of mush and blood. This band is an animalistic machine, and their first record is enough not only to put Narakah on the grindcore map but also serve as a warning they’re here for blood and won’t settle until they’re satisfied.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/narakahgrind/

To buy the album, go here: https://forceofreckoningrecords.bigcartel.com/product/narakah-nemesis-cloak

For more on the label, go here: https://forceofreckoning.bandcamp.com/